4) The Dodgers had no pitching. Or at least not enough. Podres was gone and so was Loes and so was Spooner, and the ones who were left couldn't carry the load of a team which wasn't hitting.
5) The Dodgers were hurt. Zimmer, beaned in late June, was out for the year. Robinson had an injured leg. Reese was playing with a sore groin muscle. And there was a whole epidemic of thumb injuries: Campanella had one full of bone chips, Randy Jackson cut his in a shower, Gilliam jammed his in a play at second base.
6) The National League was tougher than ever before. The opposition had caught up with Brooklyn.
7) The Dodgers had dissension. Manager Walter Alston and his players were feuding and fighting behind closed doors.
This was on July 14....
At 39 minutes past 3 o'clock on the afternoon of Aug. 2, Don Newcombe leaned far back on the pitching mound at Ebbets Field, kicked his left leg high in the air and sent a baseball sizzling past Eddie Mathews' violently swung bat. It was a third strike and the end of a ball game. And the thud of the ball, as it banged into Campanella's big glove, sounded like the peal of Gabriel's horn through the antiquated old ball park in Flatbush. En masse, the Brooklyn Dodgers arose from their graves, shook themselves and—not looking like ghosts at all but just a little dirty and sweaty maybe—flexed their muscles and snarled their defiance to prove they had come back to haunt the rest of the National League.
"You put us away," they said, "a little too soon."
Again, there were few to disagree. Because once again it wasn't so much that the Dodgers had just won three from Milwaukee nor even that they were only two games out of first place. It was, instead, the way in which they had been playing—tough and strong and sure. For, even while Milwaukee was continuing its hot streak through late July, there had been rustlings in the Dodger graveyard; the Dodgers were winning too. In fact, from the moment they left Milwaukee on that dismal Saturday afternoon, they had lost only five games. They won 15, including eight in a row at one stage, and when they finished with the Braves last week, they had won 11 of their last 13. The Dodgers, it was plain to see, had regained their power, their poise, their confidence; they were playing good baseball. And, when the chips were down, they were winning the games that had to be won. The Dodgers were very much alive.
What had happened? Well, for those same experts, this was easy too.
1) The Dodgers are real old pros. "They don't get very excited about winning," said Jackson, who came to Brooklyn this season after six years with the Chicago Cubs, "because they are used to winning. But they sure don't like to lose." Not hungry? The very idea of letting that big World Series paycheck get away without a real fight was unthinkable; one does not easily give up one's Cadillac and the mink stole upon the back of one's wife. The thrill all gone? Ask Pee Wee Reese, to whom there is no greater thrill than a Brooklyn victory. Complacent? Can anyone imagine a complacent Jackie Robinson?